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Understanding by Design [Paperback]

Grant P. Wiggins , Jay McTighe

Price: 19.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Deve; 2 Expanded edition (30 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416600353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416600350
  • Product Dimensions: 27.8 x 21.5 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 140,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

Combines provocative ideas, thoughtful analysis, and tested approaches to offer teacher-designers a clear path to the creation of curriculum that ensures better learning. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
168 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, Critical, Essential 9 July 2006
By J. Sheriff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With respect to some of the previous reviewers, I really don't think they have done justice to this book. I'll completely expose my inner geek and admit that curriculum design is fascinating to me, and add that I own a considerable number of books on the topic. I am particularly interested in differentiating curricula, and I purchase books about educational theory and classroom ideas the way other women purchase shoes--insatiably. I have constantly challenged myself to create personalized lessons with meaningful learning goals throughout my teaching career, but I will say that this book has definitely changed the way I view teaching and curricular design--and for the better.

I liked this book because it embraces the numerous messy variables that exist in the real world of teaching, and provides a template for you to construct meaningful, integrated learning activities for students. These messy variables include differing student interests and abilities, the struggle to keep activities engaging as well as applicable to important premises of a given discipline, as well as logistical restraints, such as time and access to resources. Other models provide neat flow charts that look beautiful, but often prove unusable given a unique teaching situation (and who doesn't have a unique teaching situation?) This philosophy expects messy variability, and gives a vision and a plan to work with that, instead of hoping everything will turn out neatly.

Here are some of the huge ideas I got from this book. First, it is essential to clarify the "so what?" of whatever you are teaching--the big ideas, the principles of the field, the "It" things you want students to come away with. I have always done this instinctively, but I have not been so great about communicating those principles clearly and repeatedly to students (and parents and colleagues). The idea that students can be actively involved in the philosophy and understanding behind the curricular design (as well as, of course, make choices as part of the lessons), was a light bulb for me. Also, teaching often tends to become scattered with lots of facts and pressure to "cover" information, and clarifying these big ideas and working from there makes intuitive sense--if it doesn't connect to the big ideas you've established as critical, then the lesson doesn't belong. Perhaps these ideas seem like huge "duh" statements, but in the real world of teaching, I think very few people manage to adequately establish the critical issues, articulate and refer to them with students, and connect them to related ideas throughout the term. This book really is a valuable resource for doing the hard, thinking work that teachers really are capable of doing. It provides direction in an environment bound by paperwork and directives that have us running in circles. It is not the idea of backward design that's revolutionary, but the practicality of the technique that aligns so well with what good teachers instinctively know works best.

The reviewer who took issue with the philosophy as being problematic because it was inherently incapable of being truly student-driven raises an interesting point, but I'm not sure it's really a downfall of the book. There are very few schools (with a notable exception profiled on 60 Minutes some years ago) which allow students to determine what they will study based solely on their interests. I appreciate the question, and it's a worthy one to discuss--after all, is it only worthwhile to investigate and learn about things that really interest us? Or should every person be responsible for a core set of knowledge before branching into specialization in a field? Most schools operate with the latter premise and have requisite standards to be met, so a student-driven curriculum is not an option for most teachers. Further, a central tenet of the book relates to designing curricula so that students will "uncover" truths--rather than having a teacher or textbook "tell it" to them--students uncover meaning in an authentic way as it relates to a given topic in a discipline. To me, this is meaning-making--learning--at its best.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars UbD Review 15 July 2009
By J. Gay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I learned about this product in a professional learning seminar at my school before I ever bought the book. The department head discussed the same concepts in a much more concise manner. The book uses unnecessarily elevated language instead of simply stating the process for implementing backwards design. The text often referred to terms that were only listed in the glossary, and the glossary definitions were presented in jumbled and vague language. The concept and process is only clear to the reader because of the sample handouts in the text. Had I not known about backwards design before reading this book, I would not have implemented the concepts unless required to do so because the process (as explained in the book) contains many more steps than necessary to achieve the desired result.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Understanding By Design 1 May 2009
By Ann-marie C. Delgado - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I think the premise of the book was excellent, but the manner in which it was presented was, at times, redundant. I think the authors could have made the book more concise and to the point. From time to time, it seemed like the authors were simply caught up in the verbage and not an effective point.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good strategies, unnecessarily wordy 13 April 2013
By Garrett Zecker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Understanding by Design is a technical publication for building curriculum using the backward design process. This book helps instructors support their work by implementing Essential Questions so that a course can be built around the end result and focused on understanding rather than milestones and tasks. It is a pretty basic lesson planning guide - almost a 101 for teachers of anything. It lacks a few fundamental ideas, such as using taxonomy as a basis for questioning, but I think that the book's primary focus is on building of courses, lessons, and units rather than pedagogical technique.

There are a few things I like about it - it teaches the concepts and also manages to include applicable strategies and forms that will help the instructor build their unit. It is also well written. Some things I don't like is that it is unnecessarily wordy in many places, and it contains many useless graphics that illustrate ideas that are not really difficult for anyone to grasp. One final note is that the author uses unnecessary humor at times that I think really just adds to the wordiness of some topics that are relatively simple to grasp.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh approach to curriculum design 5 Aug 2008
By S. Holtrop - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've used this book for three years in my graduate Curriculum Design courses for teachers. My students are practicing teachers who have seen dozens of lesson planning approaches and don't need some new theory just for the fun of it. But Wiggins and McTighe present a fresh perspective that doesn't so much replace as reposition traditional approaches. It boils down to what they call backward design--or identifying learning outcomes and assessments before addressing fun activities or how to meet state standards. This means the fun activities, state standards, and building or district level lesson plan formats all work with their system--they just remind us all to figure out the purpose of a lesson before committing the "twin sins" of merely entertaining the students or covering the material.
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